British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will unveil a plan on Monday to lift restrictions on coronaviruses from July 19, while urging people to “learn to live with” the virus.
Johnson had initially aimed for a full reopening on June 21, but was forced to push the date back due to an increase in the highly contagious Delta variant. This variant now represents almost all new cases of Covid in Britain.
The Prime Minister will give a press conference and the Minister of Health, Sajid Javid, is expected to address Parliament on the matter.
After Russia, Britain has the highest coronavirus death toll of any European country, at more than 128,000. It is gradually ending a third lockdown period, although some restrictions remain.
Nightclubs have not been allowed to open, large-scale events are not operating at full capacity, and service is still limited in pubs.
The prime minister’s office says the latest figures indicate that the number of cases will continue to rise as restrictions are lifted, but also that “the link to hospitalizations and deaths has been weakened” thanks to vaccinations.
In December, Britain was one of the first countries to roll out a vaccination program and around 64% of the adult population has now received two doses of a covid vaccine.
“Today we’re going to talk about how we can restore people’s freedoms,” Johnson said in a statement ahead of his press conference.
– Controversy over the rules of the mask –
But he nevertheless stressed that the pandemic was not over – that people need to “start learning to live with this virus” and “exercise judgment” in their lives.
For several days, the London government has suggested it will use common sense and may make the wearing of masks optional in public, although the Scottish government is taking a more cautious line.
Some academics who advise the government have strongly criticized the relaxation of the rules on wearing masks.
Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, said it was “scary to have a secretary for ‘Health’ who wants to make all protections a matter of personal choice when the key message of the pandemic is ‘this is’ t an ‘I’ thing, it is an ‘us’ thing.
“Your behavior affects my health,” Reicher said.
Susan Michie, a psychology professor specializing in behavior change, was also critical. “Allowing community transmission to skyrocket is like building new ‘variant factories’ at a very rapid rate,” she said.
Over the weekend, the British Medical Association urged the government to maintain some restrictions amid an “alarming” increase in the number of Covid cases, which is near 30,000 per day.
© 2021 AFP